Settling in on a cool Sydney afternoon, Jesse Coulter of Adelaide rock band Grenadiers pulls up a stool ahead of the band’s show at Blood, Sweat and Beers. We chat rock music in Adelaide, what a Grenabeer would taste like and Star Wars.
Photos by Liam Cameron.
HAPPY: So are you looking forward to the Blood, Sweat and Beers show tonight?
JESSE: Yeah! We’ve played it about two years ago when it was at the Annandale. That was awesome there, it’s too bad its turned into a fucking middle of the road, pram-pushing fuckwit haven. But it was cool for a while, and it was great playing there. But the factory floor is a good venue. And it has the benefit of having the stage upstairs, the stage downstairs and a little acoustic stage outside. There’s an ice cream stall, it’s like a DIY festival.
HAPPY: Yeah it’s pretty good place, we were there for Blurst of Times last year and that was pretty good.
JESSE: I’ve heard of that, who played?
HAPPY: DZ played, Velociraptor, Bloods, Apes, just a shit tonne of good bands and it was fucking loud. It was great.
JESSE: We’ll be playing with DZ in a couple of weeks, just at Rocket Bar for this Sailor Jerry’s thing. It’s gonna be lots of tattoos and haircuts, and lots of rum.
HAPPY: Which is what you want at a gig!
JESSE: Pretty much! (laughs) It’s a series of events called Punk Ass Kids which they always have on a Wednesday night, and all the uni students go because it’s cheap and they have good rock bands. It’s pretty cool, I think we’ve done it like three times. It’s always a good time, lot’s of free rum (laughs).
HAPPY: Free haircuts, who can complain?
JESSE: It’s always weird getting your hair cut with all these people around you. Like 200 pissed people just hanging around while you get a haircut. They probably have better things to do than looking at me getting a haircut, but if it’s a slow night maybe not (laughs).
HAPPY: Watching a stranger get a hair cut is very entertaining! You mentioned earlier about The Annandale getting it’s teeth pulled, what’s your take on venues like this going under? A lot places here in Sydney are struggling.
JESSE: I guess they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do to make it stick, and if that means gentrifying I guess that’s it. But a lot of these places get taken over by an agency or a venue, and all they really look at is the bottom line. Some people who own venues understand that there is more to that, it doesn’t have to be but if you do want to have a place for the community you can do that. That does mean a fiscal sacrifice in some ways. The Annandale is a crusty old shit hole, and that was what was so awesome about it. Lots of rock bands playing there with plaster falling off the ceiling. And now it’s just another whatever pub, I find that depressing personally. But then I’m sure there are people in that neighbourhood who are pleased they can go to another local place without harangued by hooligans in leather jackets (laughs).
HAPPY: What’s the situation like in Adelaide?
JESSE: It’s fucking awesome actually.
HAPPY: Someone was telling me there’s a shit tonne of mad venues, pop-up events, cool stuff like that.
JESSE: Adelaide’s had a lot of pick up in the last couple of years. Basically about ten years ago Adelaide was the biggest city in terms of where metalcore and hardcore went. After that style of music died off a little and evolved into newer things Adelaide went really stagnant because everyone who was in those bands started doing other styles of music. For a while it was a bit disparate and not a lot was going on, but now it’s become a strength. A lot of those bands have built up a strong following. There are a lot of good bands kicking around.
There’s The Hard Aches, Horror My Friend, Spark Spitter, West Thebarton Brothel Party, who also have the best name in Adelaide. Lots of good rock bands kicking around. Apart from that there are a lot of pop-up venues, most of which don’t do music but some do. And even the ones that don’t add to the general vibe. It used to be if you went to the west end you wanted to get drugs or get stabbed. Now it’s actually it’s a slightly more enticing place to go.
HAPPY: I heard Adelaide was the stabbing capital of Australia?
JESSE: I think Adelaide is the capital of a lot of things it shouldn’t be. It’s known as the murder capital.
HAPPY: Dude that’s insane!
JESSE: Well I don’t know, I’ve never been murdered. Apparently it happens a lot and in a real grissly fashion. I’ve heard stories and everyone knows about the bodies in the barrels. It’s got a dark history. I remember Stephen King said in an interview once that Adelaide was the exact kind of place he would base one of his books. Which he still hasn’t done, so I’m calling bullshit on that.
HAPPY: He does write a book a year, so you never know.
JESSE: He’s a prolific man!
HAPPY: I always think of the movie version of Misery when I think of Stephen King.
JESSE: I haven’t seen it!
HAPPY: Have you read the book?
HAPPY: I won’t spoil it for you but it’s crazy, it’s pretty much a two hour hostage movie and it’s terrifying.
JESSE: That does sound terrifying. I remember reading It when I was about eight, it was one of the first big adult books I read. I was reading that at 2am, whit knuckle grip on these crusty old pages, fucking shitting myself! I shouldn’t have been reading that! Eight year olds can’t read that kind of stuff. But it’s had a lasting impact.
HAPPY: Are you scared of clowns?
JESSE: They’re playing at the show tonight (laughs). They’re quite lovely guys! The ones with make-up, yeah they’re terrifying, the band they’re a bunch of little puppies. They’re not gonna pull you into a drain and rip your arms off. Might pull you int a bar and pour a beer down your throat.
HAPPY: You say it had a lasting effect…
JESSE: I think everything you inhale has a lasting effect on a young person, for better or worse. I watched Star Wars like a dozen times a week between five and ten. I can recite that movie verbatim, all three of em. But I don’t know whether that was to my benefit or detriment. I’m now a massively socially awkward geek, and I know way too much about Star Wars to the point where it’s not even cool.
HAPPY: Like extended universe kind of stuff?
JESSE: A little bit. I went through a few years of where I’d spend a couple of hours a day on the extended universe website. I’m rusty with it now, it’s definitely had a lasting impact on me, for good or bad I don’t know. But if you watch a lot of horror movies when you’re a kid it’ll effect you one way. If you listen to a certain style of music, you’re brain is like a sponge when you’re that young. When you’re in your 20s and 30 and can walk past a stereo playing a song you’d like and go “Oh yeah, whatever“. When you’re that young it’s like “This is the best thing I’ve ever heard!”. It makes you want to explore and find more things to suck up with your mind sponge!
HAPPY: I can’t let this go, you said you can quote those movies. You have to give me a line!
JESSE: Oh man, I probably shouldn’t have said that!
HAPPY: You can do it!
JESSE: (Jesse uses the best Ackbar voice) “Our shields can’t repel fire at that magnitude!” (laughs).
HAPPY: (Laughs) Yes!
JESSE: “It’s a trap!” Admiral Ackbar was always my favourite. And then Lando Calrissian’s co-pilot.
HAPPY: Oh yeah, what was that guy?
JESSE: He looked like the something you’d scrape out between your toes.
HAPPY: I always called him “Putty Man”
JESSE: Yeah Putty Man is a very apt description. Or a frog. Maybe a putty constructed frog. Although he is a little bit of a racial stereotype. There was some conjecture about him being a, I can’t remember what race he was maligning, or maybe people are just being overly politically correct.
HAPPY: Women are really under-represented in those movies too.
JESSE: In Star Wars? Absolutely. There’s Mon Mothma, who has two lines and is the most cardboard character in the series. And then there’s Princess Leia, who’s a very robust character and has a lot of attitude, she’s pretty cool and in some ways is a pretty good role model. But she does spend half a film in a fucking slave bikini. And her name, as pretty much the only girl in the universe is Lei-a. I think attitudes like the feminist movement hadn’t infiltrated mass market film at that point. As much as I love George Lucas and hate him simultaneously for what he did after, he probably isn’t the most forward thinking person in the universe. He was originally slated in to direct Apocalypse Now, I’m really glad that didn’t happen. Who knows, it could’ve been a fantastic film, who knows?
HAPPY: Wow that boggles the mind.
JESSE: I know! Imagine that, the John Williams Star Wars theme going over the napalm bombing at the start, wouldn’t have the same effect.
HAPPY: Well it would come down to how he handles a drunk Martin Sheen on camera.
JESSE: Well Harrison Ford has a bit part in Apocalypse. He’s the guy who gives Martin Sheen his briefing at the start. I re-watched it a few weeks ago, it’s still fucking amazing. Although I am a big Indiana Jones fan too.
HAPPY: Does it hurt you inside knowing that they’re going to make another one?
JESSE: I really hope that doesn’t happen. I actually managed to avoid watching Crystal Skull. I decided I wasn’t going to watch it because I knew it would be a horrible film. When the reviews came out and the general consensus was it was shit I had to stick with that, and I’m glad because my childhood wonderment remains intact.
HAPPY: I envy you sir, I really do. It’s like the prequel trilogy.
JESSE: Oh those were bad!
HAPPY: And you realise that Lucas has an amputee fetish as well.
JESSE: I’d be interested to know the story of the guy in the bar that Obi-Wan cuts his hand off. You know the guy in the bar who’s like “I don’t like you either. I have the death sentence in five systems“, that guy.
HAPPY: Robot Chicken did a thing where you see his backstory, he’s like an architect…
JESSE: And he gets fired cause he can’t draw then takes to the piss. I remember that! (laughs). And then you see it from his side and it was a total misunderstanding. I forgot about that, thanks for reminding me.
HAPPY: He just wanted to buy Luke a drink. Speaking of, you guys have the Grenabeers tour coming up later this year! So I was curious, if the Grenadiers had their own Grenabeer what kind of beer would it be?
JESSE: That’s a very tough question, I’m a man of many taste when it come to beer. I like lagers, pilsners, ales, darks. I feel like it would be bitter for sure, because we all are. Something aged, because we all are. Something with a really full on palate. Something not easy to drink, you’ll have one and then you’ll never want to touch it again. But, having said that I would like to think it’d be something you’d go back to. Could you drink a carton of Grenabeers? I don’t know.
HAPPY: That sounds like the Feral Hop Hog, it’s a very hop-y beer.
JESSE: I think a Grenabeer would be something dar, bitter, but something you’d like to come back to. Something that would get you that sentimental drunk. Not the kind of angry, throwing chairs drunk. I like the sentimental drunk, it’s less hurt-y, less punch-y.
HAPPY: Have you ever been in an altercation?
JESSE: Look I’d like to say I’ve been a fight, but a fight involves two parties engaging. I’ve been punched, but then I’ve run away. I’m not a fighter, I’d say I’m a love but I’m not that either. I’ve definitely been in situations where I’ve been punched, but I wouldn’t call it a fight because that would require a response form me, and I’m too much of pussy to do that. I’m happy to get into a fight as long as no one expects me to win. I’m happy to participate in the same way a ball boy participates in a tennis match. I don’t want to be the one throwing punches, I’ll be the one sweeping up the glass after the glassing (laughs).
HAPPY: Nah fighting is pretty dumb.
JESSE: It is. Isaac Asimov said it was the last refuge of the incompetent.
HAPPY: That’s pretty wise. Well I’ll ask you the last question then. We’re always talking about stuff that makes us happy, so Jesse what makes you happy?
JESSE: Radio Birdman, west end tinnie on the beach during 40 degree sunset, dogs. Yeah, those are the first three things that come to mind!